EJM Designs Limited Blog

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Know Your Partners: A Cautionary Tale

When you own your own business, you can work the social networks, you can imbue every part of your work and practice with integrity and you can view the entire world as your growing oyster.

But people will take advantage. If someone can - or has for a while - gamed the system, turned things slightly unethical to get a buck into his/her pocket, they will always be that person.

Allow me an example: I got into business with a friend and her business partner. The parameters were pretty straightforward: Nice niche, I build the site, they handle the logistics, and I get a cut of the profit after a down payment. Pretty normal. She seemed to trust this guy, so I was fine with it.

Business dramatics aside, I got a call from my friend yesterday. She had received a text from her business partner: "Tell Eric we sold the business and get the passwords so I can have this guy in India work on it." Luckily I have a friend first and a business partner second. We'll be making our own move soon.

Logistics of selling a business aside, who does that? Who thinks that kind of business practice is even reasonable?

Answer: No one you want to deal with.

Lesson learned: Spend time - hours and hours if necessary - before getting into business with anyone. People have the potential for anything. Hope for the best, but get to know them. And even then, prepare for the worst. Always have something in iron-clad writing.

I wasn't burned this time, but I have been before. And fool me once...

What are your experiences in business? Do you have any horror stories? Magnificent stories? What advice can you give based on your business or life experiences?

1 comment:

  1. Eric, I agree with you whole-heartedly. The one advice I would give, (after learning a lesson or two), is make sure you and your partner have complimentary business goals and a clear and precise business plan. Thats where I have made my mistake. A business that sounded "easy" and "good" doesn't mean a thing without a well thought out business plan in which both parties agree and duties are specifically outlined. Both individuals need to be able to also communicate clearly without playing little games (I know this from experience). Cliche: "Burn me once, shame on you; burn me twice, shame on me." I can tell you that the next time I take on a business parter, we will have similar goals and a have a good line of communication opened.